After a two-year absence, the Canadian Finals Rodeo returned to Red Deer’s Peavey Mart Centrium to bring down the curtain on a shortened 2021 season.
The 2021 Canadian Champions were crowned Nov. 7.
For Big Valley superstar saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston, Sunday afternoon’s final performance was something of a coronation, noted a CFR release.
The king of Canadian saddle bronc riders posted an 85.5 score on C5 Rodeo’s Trump card for third in the sixth round to go with two earlier round wins, two second place finishes and a previous third.
“Kicking it off with a go-round win at the start of the week got the ball rolling and you can ride that wave the rest of the week,” he said. “Having that big a cushion (going into the final round) is darn nice but even if I didn’t, I’d go out there and do what I always do.”
The two-time world champion and defending Canadian champion earned 41,760 points at the CFR for a season total of 74,383.
Thurston also claimed the aggregate title.
Also, one of the most dramatic finishes came in the steer wrestling where five-time Canadian champion Cody Cassidy of Donalda virtually had to win the round and move up a couple of places in the aggregate to claim a sixth win.
“Overall, I had good steers and got off to a good start,” Cassidy said.
“Saturday afternoon I had a steer I knew would be tricky to catch. Unfortunately I let him slip through my grasp but that’s part of it. I came back with two good steers after that.
“You can come here (to the finals) five or six times and just because you’re here doesn’t mean you’ll have the opportunity to win it. You still have to draw good.”
He explained how his approach has changed over the years.
“I try to prepare myself more mentally than anything. I’ve started listening to sport psychology podcasts … as long as you’re prepared to rise to the occasion when the opportunity presents itself, you’re going to do good.”
Cassidy did what he had to and the stars aligned to give the bull dogger an 8,000 point margin of victory.
It’s also a huge milestone in that the six titles equal the Canadian record total established by Hall of Famer Bud Butterfield a half century ago.
Other locals who took part this year included Kirsty White of Big Valley in the ladies’ barrel racing. She landed fourth in the average in that event.
Meeting Creek’s Layton Green came in fourth place in the average in saddlebronc.
History was also made at Westerner Park as the first ever ladies breakaway roping champion was determined after three rounds of action, noted the release.
It was the second generation cowgirl and National High School Champion Kendal Pierson of Wardlow who won all three rounds to secure the title in front of a large and appreciative Centrium crowd.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada.
The CPRA approves 55 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.7 million.